“Care Unbound, to create more possibilities for care in every moment” is the product of 300 people’s aspirations and ambition. It describes what we believe we can do together in our communities and services, and in every interaction between ourselves, with each other at work, in our business relationships and in every aspect of our work.
So how did we get here? And why are we changing from BICS to ‘Here’? These are my reflections on this journey and some thoughts on what has motivated and guided me personally during this process to understand our ambition and contribution as an organisation.
This year, I am approaching my 25 year anniversary of working in health and social care locally. As some of you who I have worked with during these years will bear testament, apart from growing, developing and getting older and sometimes wiser, I have had some amazing experiences of the systems we work in.
I have always focussed on finding ways to get large health and social care institutions to understand what matters to those they serve and deliver that first time. My passion has been to help people to regain or re-establish control over their own lives and to help them to do what’s right for them. Over this time, as for many of us, my hair has got thinner from frustration with the system we have designed and the organisational practices and processes that sometimes don’t seem to help people. I’ve got more than my fingers burnt and pride dented by fighting against the tribalism of professional boundaries.
I have been appalled at the ability of our system to unwittingly dehumanise the care we offer, and to treat staff like automatons without the ability think for themselves. I have also seen us try to solve the same problems with the same thinking that created those problems – and have taken part in and implemented some of that thinking myself.
Over the last nine years, I have had the privilege and opportunity to create an organisation from scratch in the shape of Brighton and Hove Integrated Care Service. I have been able to have the freedom to try to mould and shape a service response to what matters to people directly. This response has at its heart the intention to do good in the world, to play a role in ending some of the frustrations and disappointments we all experience in our current healthcare system. During those nine years, as well as achieving so much, I have made mistakes, delivered services that sometimes I am not proud of, that don’t help or make things worse, but always with an openness to learning and the painful self-reflection that is so important for finding new solutions.
I have always looked outward to understand how to make a difference in my work, to seek inspiration from elsewhere and to sense what’s needed. I have asked the question: ‘how could our organisation and all its resources be helpful?’. As I have got older it has become more and more important to be truly intentional about how I spend my energy. I am driven by acting with purpose and this intentionality seems to make me more effective – it seems to help me help others.
So it was with this intention that we began the process at Brighton & Hove Integrated Care Service (BICS) to review our purpose. And it was a deliberate intention to engage in that process of review in a way that encouraged those we work with, our own staff and other partner staff to articulate their sense of what’s needed in our communities and the scale of our ambition to meet that need.
“Care Unbound, to create more possibilities for care in every moment” is the redefined purpose we have created together.
The word ‘care’ for me has been challenging. When it was first mentioned as being part of our purpose, I have to confess that I wasn’t that keen. ‘Care’ felt very paternalistic to me, the kind of way of thinking that I have been challenging for the past 25 years.
‘Care Unbound’ to me is about reclaiming the word care and liberating it from the chains of paternalism. At an individual level it’s about seeing clearly what’s needed, it’s about listening, about being present and making good decisions and acting wisely.
At a strategic level, it opens and renews the possibility that we can use a different way of thinking to solve the problems we need to solve with the people we serve. It stops them being passive agents in our process and it cracks open the way for designing systems of care at every level that really understand what matters and find ways to deliver that first time.
‘Creating more possibilities for care in every moment’ for me is an expression of our organisation’s deeply held understanding that when we do this, when we slow down, listen to ourselves, each other, when we really seek to help someone, there are infinite possibilities to do this and not just at an appointment or in someone’s home.
I have taken time to really make this purpose make sense to me, and I have also spent time with our teams helping them bring their own meaning to our purpose. I have watched the sense of possibility grow and grow as people make sense of what this means for them in their own way. I always leave these sessions inspired and excited that this purpose has both meaning and gives people a sense of agency to continue to make a difference with and for those we serve.
Our new purpose seems also to be unleashing, and less constraining. It drops the sense that we can only enact our purpose through service delivery. My job description says my job is to tether the organisation to its purpose and the image that I hold in my mind is one of being grounded, holding onto the string of a balloon that is bounding on the aspirations and excitement of others.
“Here” as our new name felt just right to complement our purpose. Our advisors on the journey to reconnect with our purpose – NEO – were so clear that our name needs to convey key qualities of the organisation. “Here” to me speaks of presence, commitment to being here and helping find solutions in our health and social care system. It gives me a sense of being grounded, using data to know how to make a difference, of listening and of acting wisely.
I am excited about our new purpose and our new identity and I will also confess to feeling nervous about how it lands. It’s the kind of nervousness you get when you are giving someone a present that you have spent a lot of time on and really hope they like!
Whatever your feedback, it would be wonderful to hear. One of the things I have learnt over the last 25 years is that it takes courage to step forward and effect change, and at Here we admire those who do that even when they don’t agree with us.
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